A Doll’s House- Review Questions

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1. Nora and Torvald’s relationship seems almost too common nowadays. The
wife is detached from all outlets of life and liberty, and the husband
drops subtle put-downs out of habit. Torvald says he loves Nora, yet
forces her to live a life of secrecy, if she wants to live one at all.

Even Christine was treated with contempt when she entered the story as
a childhood friend of Nora’s.Christine and Krogstad, however, seemed
more intimate, and simultaneously, more independent. Christine, now
widowed, and Krogstad, raising his children alone, are forced to
reconnect after Krogstad admitted that the fire within him never died,
and that he still had feelings for Christine. Henrik Ibsen may have
placed these two relationships together in the play to justify the
actions of Nora, by comparing her relationship with Torvald with that
of Christine and Krogstad.

2. Christine is a foil to Nora, because without Christine, Nora would
have felt bitterly alone in her ordeal with the loan from Krogstad.

Christine interrupts the situation of the Helmer’s household when she
enters, rather unexpectedly. By foiling, or interfering, with Nora’s
plan to get more and more ‘allowance’ from Torvald to pay off the loan
in secret, Christine is the catalyst in the chain of events that
ultimately leads to Nora’s brash decision to leave Torvald and their
children behind in search of herself. Christine’s role in all of this,
is that if it weren’t for Christine’s urging of Nora to tell Torvald,
the issue would have been dealt with between Nora and Krogstad, and no
one would ever have to have known about it. However, Christine pushed
Nora to be frank and upfront about her financial decision, and, as
earlier stated, was the catalyst to the chain reaction of the
destruction of the household.

3. Krogstad is a foil to Torvald, in that he is a threat to Torvald’s
reputation as the new bank manager, and as a man in society. Torvald
is constantly obsessed with what effects something has on what people
think of him, like when he states, “What will people think of a man who
can be manipulated by his own wife?” Torvald is a man that conforms to
the ills of society, and threatens the peace of many others. Krogstad
is a threat to Torvald, in that, Krogstad has blackmail on him and his
family, and will force Torvald to grant him back his position at the
bank. Torvald is an overly weak character, and is self-centered to the

4. The Christmas Tree- The tree is the scene is an example of Nora’s
desire to splurge, especially at Christmas. She felt that the
decoration was needed in the house, but it was really to please
herself. The tree had little significance other than to reinforce the
fact that Nora isn’t very money-savvy.

The Lamp- The lamp, which was used for light, was put in the scene to
reflect on something’s untapped potential. The lamp, which wasn’t
often used, created an opportunity to read by, or light the room, but
was rarely used at all. The lamp, wasting away unused, is a symbol of
Nora’s inner character, withering away in her constricting marriage.

The Black Shawl- The black shawl is symbolic of the mask that Nora has to
hide behind, similar to her relationship with Torvald. She isn’t able
to express herself as if she has is capable of independent thinking,
and is forced to hide behind the veil of her husband. The shawl is a
symbol of the inability to be her own person, and Nora’s reliance upon
Torvald to be able to interact with others.

5. Nora is a victim of her society, in the fact that the
contemporary beliefs were that a woman had no right to be independent,
and that the man was in control of all aspects of the family. Also,
the ignorance of Torvald, as referenced when he made his comment about
never being able to forgive the woman who plants the seeds of lies in
their child’s brain, played a major role in shifting the thoughts of
Nora into such a whirlwind. Torvald was to Nora, what a batterer is to
his spouse, controlling and fearful, and the society saw it as
acceptable in that time period. Torvald and Dr. Rank both, showed
moments of passion for Nora, however, even Dr. Rank was kind enough to
request that Torvald not see him after the news of his death was
finalized, in order to protect their good memories. Nora was
incapacitated by her society, and showed good judgment, by leaving and
rediscovering herself.

6. Much of Nora’s agony was caused by necessity for funds to save the
life of the man she loved. The loan, taken not from the bank, but an
individual, was due to be paid, and Nora needed to find a way to
compensate Krogstad, or risk exposing her secret to the world. Nora
decided that it would be best if Torvald didn’t know about the loan,
and bribed Krogstad to keep quiet. Torvald later found out after
Krogstad told him in a letter that he wrote, along with a letter of
apology, and explanation. Torvald’s anger was not caused by Nora, but
rather by his inability to be gracious and show gratitude. Much of
Nora’s agony, though not all, was self-inflicted.

7. All of Ibsen’s plays deal with the wrongs of society, and how the
women are so mistreated, and eventually become stronger, as in the case
of Nora, or end their struggle, like Hedda Gabler. Ibsen wanted to
make a difference with his works, and relied heavily on his controversy
to reach out to people and get his audience. The strength of his
works, once translated into other languages out of Norwegian, was lost
slightly, but still contains a strong message, that the corruptions of
society lead to hardship and heartbreak for not just few, but through
the ‘domino effect’, many people are hurt.

8. The central metaphor of “A Doll’s House,” is Nora being the doll,
trapped forever in the confines of her own home, and her inability to
escape. Ibsen portrayed her as a strong character once, but
manipulated by Torvald, or molded into what he wants her to become.

She was treated like a doll by her father, taking on many of his
intangible beliefs, and many of those were lost in her transition into
the home of Torvald. Nora’s inability to be independent, and lack of
discipline surfaced through her lack of need to use those abilities.

Nora was unable to adjust to the stresses of being controlled, as the
women were in that time in that society. She was forced to rediscover
herself on her own journey, outside the confines of discretion, and in
her own mind.

9. Ibsen was a whole-hearted feminist, and focused heavily on the fact of
the double standards of society. He felt that women were not given as
much a chance to be independent and relied heavily on the confines of
what their male ‘masters’ believed. The fact that Torvald said that he
could forgive a man who made an indiscretion for an insignificant
purpose, yet could never forgive a woman for doing it to save the life
of her husband, is highly controversial, yet common. The double
standards apply not only to Ibsen’s society, but to almost all, in
general. Ibsen, however, focuses more on his own society because the
local reaction is always more important than the overall reaction. The
role of women has grown with time since the Great War, WW I, when they
were first allowed to vote. The women were allowed to hold jobs of
their husbands allowed them to, and they were paid almost equal
amounts. The women, however, had to deal with other pressures,
stereotypes, and irritability in the workplace, and didn’t receive
compensation for that. Women have always been exposed differently than

10. The dramatic question is whether or not Torvald is really a man, and
is willing to accept the consequences of his wife’s actions as his own,
and not point the finger and blame. Yet he does just that, wags his
finger at Nora, saying how ashamed he is that she would ‘ruin his
reputation’ as the new bank manager. Nora tells Christine that she
waits for the day when her husband will do a ‘miracle’ and accept her
wrongs as his own, and bring more honor than shame to his family, but
the repercussions of his actions are not considered until the very
final lines. Nora stated that she no longer loved Torvald, and he
accepted that as her reason for leaving, but her real reason was
Torvald showed no love for her. Nora felt unwanted and knew that she
was her strongest alone, but needed to escape to regain her composure.

11. Exposition- Nora revealing to Christine that she borrowed money from
Krogstad to pay for the Italy trip, and had forged her father’s

Rising Action- When Krogstad confronted Nora about the deal, he
delinquency, and the fac that Torvald needed to be told.

Climax- When Torvald left the letter in the mailbox, and both
Christine and Nora knew that it was there, and that they were awaiting
the miracle to happen.

Falling Action- When Torvald reads the letter, and confronts Nora with
it, ranting and raving about how he is “ruined.”
Catastrophe- Nora gaining her freedom and escaping the Doll’s House.

12. Men will do anything for love, and Krogstad rekindled his fire with
Mrs. Linde. Because of Nora and Christine being friends, Krogstad was
willing to apologize for his brash behavior, and we wanted for
apologize for the letter being so condescending and unwanted.

Krogstad’s transition is a logical one, because is widely known that
men can think clearly when women aren’t involved in the equation.

Krogstad says that he had made a big mistake, and that Nora was much
more deserving of his trust. He seems to have truly had a change of
heart and a new partner to endure life with.

13.The realism of the novel lies in its plot and it’s ending, when
Nora decides to walk out on Torvald. That situation and result occur
only in a realistic world, not only in a fantasy world. Ibsen’s goal,
to show the unfairness of the society in that era has been successful
to a fault, and unsuccessful in so many ways. The reality of the
closure, is what, in my mind, sets this play apart from any
contemporary piece read so far. It plays out much like a soap opera
would on television, and every move can be pictured and the emotions,
magnified. Ibsen was talented enough to create the events of realism
and portray them well in his play, and that is why it is classified as

13. This ‘finish’ to such a strong play would be a disappointment. Ibsen’s
immense talent for tying the oddities in with the obscenities would be
wasted by this non-conclusion. The story doesn’t end; it just shows that
the day ended. The end of the play seems incomplete with this tacked in
at the end, and comes to no real conclusion, just another day in the life
that Nora has to deal with. Though controversial, the true ending shows
the power of a woman’s will, and her drive to succeed. Nora wanted
success on her own, and would never achieve that with Torvald as a
restrictor in her life. The ending in the book is much truer to the
characters of Nora and Torvald, because it is consistent with their
earlier behavior in the play.

15. Mr. Director,
I regret to inform you that we have decided to
produce the play “A Doll’s House”, with the alternate ending. We here at
the theatre feel that the original ending is too controversial for our
audience to view. We do not support run-away renegade women, and do not
wish to portray that type of character in our show. We do understand
that, from an artistic standpoint, that this decision may not be the best
one, but we feel that protecting the morals of our audience is more
important than producing bad press for our theatre. We understand that,
as the director, you are in charge of the casting and production of the
play, and we will allow you to have the freedom to do so, but we ask that
the alternate ending be instated, rather than the original, in order to
draw more people and raise our, and your share of the profits. Your
qualifications need not be restated, and your talent reproved, but we ask
that you abide by our decision, purely from a community-based decision.

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